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A Guide to Handling Handicapped Pets

Whenever we interact with people with disabilities, the natural thing to do is treat them with respect, care, and dignity. But what about our four-legged companions? How should we handle handicapped pets? 

Pet parents rarely talk about disabilities. We often turn to rumors and myths and end up more distressed. Yet, just like humans, the most crucial thing to do with a handicapped pet is to relieve the pain (if he or she is in pain). After that, you can identify what is causing the pain and address it.

The most common pet disabilities are mobility difficulties due to accidents or chronic conditions. Other disabilities facing our beloved companions include blindness, deafness, and other forms of paralysis.

This guide will help you move away from relying on hearsay to providing proven high-quality care. Read on and learn how your pet can continue to live a full and happy life.

Assisting Pets with Mobility Difficulties

wheelchair dog plays fetch

The number of dogs involved in automobile accidents is steadily on the rise. Also, improved diet and care means that modern pets can live long enough to experience previously unfathomed physical disabilities.

Today, more pet owners have to deal with animals suffering from chronic lameness, back pain, and other mobility difficulties following medical procedures and aging. Older pets find it difficult to get around due to progressive degenerative conditions, such as arthritis. 

Fortunately, the human-pet bond has also grown stronger over the years. More pet owners today refer to themselves as pet parents – showing deep love and care.

1. Focus on eliminating pain

First, focus on eliminating the pain. Take him or her to the vet, and investigate the issue. Ensure that you handle the pet in a caring manner to the vet and when you administer therapy or treatment.

2. Speak to your vet about a long term solution

After you have relieved the pain and identified the issue, speak to your vet about a long-lasting solution. Mobility difficulties could be permanent or temporary. If it’s a case of permanent disability of the limbs, consider solutions like canine carts or dog wheelchairs. Your pet could take a while to adjust to its newfound legs, but with a lot of patience and support, you can help him learn.

3. If the issue is temporary, be careful when picking up your pet

Sometimes the mobility difficulty could be temporary as a result of injury or a medical procedure. In this case, make sure your pet has a comfortable bed, lots of love and affection, and the right food. It also helps if they’re comfortable if they’re wearing a cone or bandages etc. 

It’s important to note that many pets, especially cats hate being picked up. This can be for a number of reasons: because they are scared, not yet socialized, or perhaps they’ve had a negative experience before and were dropped awkwardly and hurt. If your dog or cat has a mobility issue, it’s even more important that you take care when picking them up.  A support sling or lifting harness may help you in handling your handicapped pet safely.

4. Make your home as comfortable as possible

In addition to the above points, you could make a few changes to your home. They will go a long way in making your handicapped pet feel more comfortable. For instance, consider fitting a ramp or a non-slip tread on the stairs. They will help your pet get up and down the stairs with ease. In case of permanent disabilities due to degenerative muscle conditions, elevate the feeding bowls and provide supportive orthopedic beds. 

Handling pets with hearing impairment

Hearing impairments are not as common as mobility difficulties and are harder to detect. But a deaf pet is often in danger of running into oncoming traffic and could be frustrating. 

Hearing disabilities are often not accompanied by pain, and the animal may not show any signs. However, when you realize that your pet is handicapped, take the first steps to keep your pet out of harm’s way. Restrain the animal. Ensure he or she is always on a leash or confined to a fenced compound. 

As you gradually learn to live with the pet’s disability, learn new ways to communicate. You and your pet could learn to communicate with gestures just as this jovial deaf dog called Blue

Visually Handicapped Pets

Blind dog halo for visually handicapped pets

Another handicap that is often hard to spot is blind pets. Blindness could be from birth, or your pet could develop the condition later on in life. If it is due to an accident, take the first steps of relieving pain and investigating the extent of damage with your vet. 

When blindness occurs following an accident or a pet develops it later in life due to an inherent condition, it could be frustrating. 

Fortunately, animals have keen senses of hearing, smell and excellent ability to recall.

Your pet will quickly compensate for the loss of sight with his/her keen senses. However, take these steps to make life more comfortable:

  • Take your pet around the home and compound frequently. It will help them get accustomed to the scents and sounds of their territory.
  • Make some adjustments at home. For instance, to help them navigate the stairs with ease. Or you could prepare a safe zone for your pet while inside the house.

Blind dogs usually require more help than cats. You can speak to your vet and find out how you can identify the degree of blindness and how you can help them cope.

A Final Word

Whether your handicapped pet has mobility difficulties, hearing impairment, or is visually handicapped, he or she depends on you for the right kind of care. Don’t buy into rumors or unproven ways to handle them. Use these tips, and speak to your vet about the handicapped pet. Also, get them a collar that describes their disability. This way, anyone who interacts with your pet is better informed. 

Your pet stands a better chance of recovering or enjoying a full and happy life when you care and support them. 

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